As part of Curzon Artificial Eye’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, ENTHUSIASM is proud to present a rare 35mm screening of the sole directorial offering from our company’s notorious founder Andi Engel: Melancholia (1989).
Starring the resplendent Jeroen Krabbé as Keller, a once politically radical German ex-pat residing in the now unrecognisably shabby Kensington of the late 1980s, sliding through his comfortably bourgeoisie middle years in an alcoholic haze, whilst working as an art critic for various glossy highbrow coffee table publications, and slowly succumbing to post–Socialist disillusionment, misanthropy and ennui.
However, this melancholic inertia is abruptly broken when Keller receives an unexpected phone call from an old acquaintance, Manfred – a ghost from his violent, revolutionary past – who challenges Keller to follow through on the courage of his youthful Marxist convictions and help assassinate a Chilean war criminal who is hiding out in a nearby luxury hotel.
Melancholia is the kind of understated Cold War era Euro-thriller that died a death with Brian DePalma’s Mission:Impossible (1996), owing as much to the hard-boiled fiction of Raymond Chandler as it does to the revolutionary World Cinema of the 1970s that Engel was so instrumental in bringing to UK screens. He creates a sublime portrait of a lost London - one where liberals and revolutionaries still lurked amidst the cash-poor bohemian corners of Chelsea and Kensington, time-ravaged Marxists slinking between pub lunches, poorly-heated art galleries, smoky park benches and wine soaked restaurants, cigarettes stoically flapping between their lips.
With Melancholia Engel created a moralistic allegory, concerning itself with notions of integrity, declining human standards and being held accountable to the courage of one’s convictions – this is a world where merely posturing is considered a mortal sin, which feels particularly apt and timely given the current “Post-Truth” political climate.
Preceding the feature presentation, we will be screening the digital restoration of Dziga Vertov’s seminal 1931 foray into sound filmmaking: Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass, which was Andi’s favourite film and the titular inspiration for his esoteric film quarterly publication which we are in the midst of reviving.